The beauty of Charlotte Gainsbourg’s new album Rest is the ability that it has to capture its audience directly from beginning to end and back to the beginning again. It is a seamless album with more than a few intricate layers. Rest creeps up on the listener, like a soundtrack in your head that you never realized was there until you’re bobbing your head. It doesn’t matter if you don’t understand French (or even English, for that matter). This album is as captivating as it is soulful, smoothly combining eclectic synth orchestras with a disco beat, along with one of the most charming voices who has ever sung about the effects of depression, alcoholism, and death. Rest is a timely and eerie classic sure to be stuck in the minds of many for years to come.
Hauntingly breathless from the start, Gainsbourg compels our attention to her public grief, weaving a tapestry so personal that it rocks us to our core. Rest is hypnotizing in an almost unsettling way. Because of the mixture of both French and English, it’s easy to find yourself lost in translation, lulled by the emotion and depth of both the lyrics and voice of Gainsbourg. This album runs deep, exploring topics close to the heart that most would keep completely to themselves. There are times during this album where the buzz of paralysis Gainsbourg feels is overwhelming. She is unable to control the people that she loves, much less save them from themselves. “Sylvia Says” is the perfect example of this feeling, for which Gainsbourg a line from Sylvia Plath: “I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead / I lift my lids and all is born again ”. Rest seeks to provide the audience with a voice for their own grief, sadness, and anger. The connection we feel to Gainsbourg is palpable, as if it were our own voices lifting up to the rafters.
Rest catches the audience off-guard throughout its 11 track journey. With each listen, something new is discovered: a different beat becomes an earworm, more depth is uncovered between layers of over-dubbing, or a single line breathes life into the darker sides of the human psyche. One would be hard-pressed to find another album that encapsulates what it means for a listener to lose themselves in the music. Rest is a chilling memoir of loss and isolation. That, despite what people may see from the outside rhythms, not all is well. The 47 minute run-time of this album is enough, yet not enough at the same time. Gainsbourg leaves us wanting more, so it’s particularly lucky that this album flows over itself so well. Rest is a private diary turned public, an album that not only embraces but rejects the constraints of life and the limits of what it means to be human.